By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) As Ford unveils two brand new work vans, the company is also working to protect the reputation of its hybrid vehicles. This comes after said it’s testing found that Ford’s all new hybrids don’t come close to getting the fuel economy numbers that are on the sticker.

Video: Jeff Gilbert reports on Fords new vans.

“Hybrids are far more variable in the test cycle compared to real world driving conditions compared to conventional vehicles,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s Vice President of product development.

Nair said Ford is working with the government to see if changes need to be made in the way the way fuel economy ratings are established for hybrid vehicles.

The official fuel economy rating for Ford’s new C-MAX is 47. But, Consumer Reports says in its testing, the best it could do was 37 miles per gallon.

Nair said that changes in conditions and driving style can reduce fuel economy of a hybrid by up to 17 miles per gallon.

Speed alone, from 75 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour. That can be a 7 miles per gallon difference. Outside temperature, the difference between 40 degrees and 70 degrees, 5 miles per gallon difference.”

The comments coming at a Ford Field event aimed at talking about commercial vehicles.
“The global commercial industry is valued at 17 million units right now,” said Nair. “It’s forecast to grow five million units by 2017, a 28 percent increase.”

Ford had dozens of commercial vehicles parked on the football field to show a wide range of uses.

The company is replacing the long serving E-series van with the new Ford Transit, a full size van that’s currently on sale in Europe. The U.S. version of the Transit will be built in Kansas City, where Ford’s investing a billion dollars and adding 1600 new jobs.

The new Transit van will have a fuel economy that’s at least 25 percent better than the current E-Series van. Ford says it will also have greater capability.

The smaller Transit Connect van is also getting a facelift.

Both vehicles will be on display at next month’s North American International Auto Show.


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